Pubdate: Wed, 17 Apr 2002
Source: World, The (VT)
Copyright: 2002 The World
Author: Katherine Perera



I am writing in response to some of the arguments against the medical 
marijuana bill now before the Vermont Senate.

In June, I will recognize 20 years of HIV infection as a result of a blood 
transfusion. I have been treated for HIV with drugs since 1988. I have also 
experienced severe side effects from most of these drugs. Mostly, I suffer 
from nausea and vomiting and severe rashes.

I am very fortunate to have survived this disease for this long, and I pray 
I will continue living in relative good health for many more years. 
However, the use of marijuana for medical purposes, is one of the reasons I 
am doing as well as I am today. It allows me to ease my nausea and 
vomiting, allowing me to eat well and retain what I ingest. When all my 
attention is not consumed by the nausea, I am able to be a better mother, 
wife, sister, daughter, business owner, and citizen of Vermont.

Some state that we should wait for the FDA to put medical marijuana through 
all its clinical trials and requirements for approval. I would welcome this 
approach; however, there is a ban on federally funded marijuana research.

I participate in clinical trials of new medications. As these medications 
have not yet been approved, the risks and side effects are unknown. After 
reading a list of all patients who have died on a study, I must sign a 
release, acknowledging that I know these drugs could cause my death. While 
I am allowed to sign away my life in the name of science and research, I am 
not allowed to choose the use of marijuana, a drug which has proven to me 
to greatly improve my health and quality of life.

Other drugs attempting to mimic marijuana do not work. I have tried to use 
the medicine Marinol, but the side effects are too strong and I am unable 
to function well while taking that pill.

The link between the approval of medical marijuana to the general 
legalization of marijuana is insulting and demeaning to the chronically ill 
people of Vermont who are seeking to pass this bill. Although some people 
have the luxury of looking to their future, those of us fighting serious 
illness are struggling to live through each day. Marijuana is a drug that 
greatly enables me to live life as productively as possible - to be there 
for family.

Governor Dean is one who has spoken out against medical marijuana. It is 
his duty to look at the needs of the chronically ill in Vermont through the 
reality of their lives and not through political lenses. It takes true 
leadership to make difficult decisions. Allowing patients to improve their 
quality of life through marijuana, when a doctor and patient decide the 
benefits outweigh the risks, would be a true act of leadership. I hope he 
finds the courage to support this bill. It will help chronically ill 
Vermonters, daily, who must find the courage every day just to survive.

Katherine Perera

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